The Functions of the Executive: Chester Barnard and the Theory of Organization
By MortazaviBlog on Aug 10, 2004
In my last semester at the Haas School of Business, I had the good fortunate of studying transaction cost economics (TCE) with the master: Oliver Williamson. He was a wonderful advisor, and although I had already read many of his essays, he guided my more extended readings and helped me gain a better understanding of the fundamental concepts of TCE. I started several ideas with him and finally settled on writing a paper that gave a transaction cost economics account of the bullwhip effect in supply chains. It was a fascinating exercise and learning experience. (Earlier on this weblog, I have written a brief account of the bullwhip effect, investigating it as a consequence of technological specialization and within the context of North's theories on the structual evolution of economic institutions.)
There was one book whose reading Williamson highly recommended to me: The Functions of the Executive by Chester Barnard. That book was first published in December of 1938. I have a copy of its 2002, 39th printing in my hands.
Today and possibly tomorrow, I'm going to extract a short summary of the first part of Barnard's book on The Functions of the Executive.
I think the material is important to anyone who works within a cooperative system, a business organization or any other kind of association.